March 16, 2017
For many civilizations, military service dogs or some may call, war dogs, had been used in warfare. Starting from Mid-7th century BC, their purposes have changed greatly as years passed and as warfare progressed. To know more about them, here are 10 facts about military service dogs:
When talking about military service dogs, muscular German shepherds are the first ones some people might think. But over the years, dog breeds like the highly trainable Labrador Retriever has shown patriotic heroism too. A smaller German Shepherd-like breed called Belgian Malinois is the one used by the elite US Navy SEALS. Their small size make them ideal deal for repelling missions with their handlers and parachuting.
These super-high-drive dogs are specifically trained and procured by military contractors. Seeing them jump from planes with their human partners in parachute jumps is awesome.
Before retirement, the average working time of military service dogs is 8-9 years. You might be thinking that said amount of years is not long – but that would actually be 60 dog years!
The military doesn’t use dogs from private citizens for their MWD (Military Working Dog) Program. Breeds like the Belgian Malinois are even bred on an Air Force base in Texas, for this sole purpose. Other breeds like German and Dutch Shepherds are specially brought in from carefully-selected kennels.
On November 2000, former US President Bill Clinton passed Robby’s Law. Before that, military service dogs were considered “military surplus equipment” and they were called unfit to adjust to civilian life. Instead of being honored, the military service dog was either released or euthanized. After passing the law, handlers and their families got first dibs on who would adopt these military animals at the completion of their service.
Credit: The Feminist Wire
Apparently, military service dogs are also susceptible to the horrors of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Canine PTSD was not officially recognized before but it is taken very seriously now.
Some symptoms of Canine PTSD are as follows: increased startle response, attempts to escape, hyper-vigilance, changes in rapport with its handler, withdrawal and problems performing tasks they are trained for.
The USMC (United States Marine Corps) began its war dog program in 1942 and they trained the experimental dog units across the Pacific theater, during World War II. There was even a program specifically to train a battalion of dogs to lead Marines for an amphibious assault on the Japanese mainland. How cool is that?
The US Military has this so-called puppy development specialists, who work with carefully-selected puppies from their time of birth until 6-7 months of age when they can start training them.
So, what do they actually do? They help them in developing the puppies’ basic social skills and get them ready for the tasks they will perform as they grow older.
To prevent handlers from mistreating their dogs, it is accustomed that a military service dog should be one rank higher than its handler.
These are just some of the important facts one must know about our four-legged heroes. Some would consider dogs as pets, but these furry friends actually does more - not just for people, but also for the country.
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